Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum awaits the results of the machine recount in the race for Florida Governor against Republican Ron DeSantis.
In what seems to be a strategic move, the Democrat bypassed in-state media in his first interview since rescinding his concession of the race.
Gillum preferred instead to give quotes to Rolling Stone (the kind of move someone might make who is eyeing national viability in 2020).
The big takeaway is close to the lede: Gillum saying “I’m not leaving the field.”
The full quote: “If I’m unsuccessful in this race — after a legitimate vote has been taken and after a legitimate count has been completed, and if I’m not the victor here — what I have said, certainly in this moment that we now find ourselves, is that I’m not leaving the field.”
What does that mean?
“I think my mission and my work becomes a lot more clear, first and foremost around the work that has to be done to ensure our democracy. And that means counting every vote. Every legal vote that is cast being counted. I don’t know what form that takes, really. I haven’t been able to think long enough and hard enough about that,” Gillum said.
“But I do know that I don’t want to see anybody legitimately have the excuse that they are not voting because their votes don’t count. That can’t happen. Whether I’m the one impacted by that vote or not. That can’t be the legacy of this election. I’m not gonna let that be the legacy of this election,” Gillum added.
Try as interviewer Jamil Smith might, he was unable to get a definitive statement on what’s next.
“I have not considered another office. I certainly haven’t considered what it means to run in two years,” Gillum said as the interview wrapped. “I don’t want to be that person who’s looking squarely at the shortcomings in the process right where I sit and then choose to walk away and do nothing. You know what? I’m not him.”
“And so, if there’s a place for me to help figure that out, I’m probably going to sink my teeth into that part of fixing this thing, so that this isn’t the scenario for the next candidate and the next voter and the next organizer and the next volunteer who poured everything they had into something, only to have somebody interpret that because the signature ain’t right, that their vote is not counted,” Gillum added.
Gillum also framed his rescinded concession in the light of massive midterm turnout and Republicans using his speech, given before the 11 p.m. news on Election Night, as a reason to move forward from the election.
“After understanding all of that, there was no way, in spite of how badly we wanted all of this to be resolved, that I could rest knowing that there were people out there who were not clear that their votes had been counted yet,” Gillum related.
“There was no way that we could signal to those folks who voted,” Gillum added, “those folks who worked for this thing, that I was ready to be done with it and allow Republicans to get away with saying, “Oh, well, get him conceded and therefore we shouldn’t count any more votes’.”
“I mean, that became the rhetoric — from the president. He quoted me conceding as justification as to why we ought to shut down the count. When that became clear to me, there was no way I could allow my actions to be a cover for people to be robbed of their opportunity to be counted,” Gillum added.
Gillum also addressed the mechanics of the concession, one seemingly unprompted by DeSantis.
“I told him it appears that he may be the winner in this race. He responded to me and said that if that’s the case and I’m thinking about running for anything, please don’t choose to run against him again [laughs]. And we exchanged a laugh. And that was kind of it. I mean, it almost blurs in my mind because it feels like so long ago,” Gillum said.
[Cynics might point out, perhaps, other occasions when detail blurred in Gillum’s mind, particularly those regarding Hamilton tickets and related matters].
The interview raises questions, eludes others.
Nevertheless, what is clear: Win or lose the recount, Gillum knows he has to protect his brand. And that brand may find him on a national stage sooner than later.